By Reading Islam Staff 1 July 2012
Even though he is from a different culture, religion and language and everything, my mother kind of recognized that we clicked
My name is Julie Rudy.
I became Muslim and I converted to Islam about 30 years ago.
My background is pretty normal for a Minnesotan. My mother came from a Norwegian background and my father was German. We grew up in a small town of about 1500 people, but there were 13 churches and no synagogues and no mosques, only 13 churches.
Because I grew up in a small town and there were no Muslims around us, I didn’t know anything about Islam. I was surrounded by Christians. Everyone was maybe a different kind of Christian, but there were a lot of Methodists and Lutherans in my town.
But then when I came up here to go to school, I was working at the University of Minnesota, and so I saw some people there who were Muslim. I didn’t know anything about them and was actually too shy to talk to them.
Meeting My Husband
But then I met my husband and it was a very strange kind of meeting. It was on Valentine’s Day. I was at South Ville shopping center, which is a big shopping center here, and I happened to ask my husband what time it was or he asked me what time it was. One thing led to another and I was asking him about his family and he was asking me about my family. He wasn’t used to seeing snow and everything so I was telling him about Minnesota and growing up in Minnesota, and of course I was born and raised in Minnesota.
I decided that I wanted my mother to meet my husband. My brother and his wife and my two sisters came to meet Salah. I invited them up for dinner. It was kind of strange because my mother is very easy-going and she said, only after 15 minutes of meeting him, “He is perfect for you.” And so even though he is from a different culture, religion and language and everything, my mother kind of recognized that we clicked.
Through him, I met a friend of his whose wife was American. And so she happened to be a student at the University of Minnesota, where I worked. She would come over and visit me at my office. But she was wearing hijab. She was wearing even a black hijab, a lot of the times. I felt a little bit uncomfortable but she seemed so genuine. So we continued to meet or she would come and visit me in the office. The one thing that was very nice was that she was never pushy. And then of course I was talking on the phone or I would get together with my husband, he wasn’t my husband at the time but we would get together and go out for lunch or something like that. So through this I started learning about Islam…
When I started finding out about Islam and I met my friend who was a Muslim for one year and she wore the hijab, I asked right away about that because that was a big deal to me. That seemed to be very drastic and I said “What does Islam mean?” Like what do you do as a Muslim?
Learning Islam & Family Reactions
My husband was saying there is so much to learn about Islam. So he said “Even myself I was born Muslim and I don’t know everything about Islam. We have people that are knowledgeable and go to school. They are the true ones that know a lot about Islam.”
Islam teaches everyone that we are responsible for our deeds. So if we do something that is not right, it’s on us. And my husband reassured me. He said it’s much easier to do things that are good. He said there are so many ways that we can be good. So he kind of encouraged me. So then I decided to become Muslim and I took my Shahadah. And even though I kind of knew what it meant, I still of course didn’t know a lot about Islam. I was learning a lot, but still I felt and especially now I can look back and say I just barely scratched the surface.
For me to feel comfortable that I’m not going to be expected to do anything very strange, or I want to be able to learn at my own pace. And also even wearing hijab when I took my Shahadah I was just wearing a small scarf and it was kind of tied in the back. So I didn’t feel like that either Salah or even any of my friends were pushing me or saying you have to dress this way or you have to act this way or anything. They are just very mellow and very calm with me. So that helped a lot.
My sister that’s two years younger than me, her name is Penny. I think in the beginning she didn’t know what that meant for me to change. So she was a little bit questioning of that. But I think with time she understood that nothing was going to change. I know initially when I would be going out with her, if I was wearing the scarf and we would go some place where they knew my sister, and so sometimes I kind of felt like maybe she was a little bit shy about introducing me or something. But then after a few years I’ve noticed that we laughed together, we talked when we were out together, and if we ran into someone that she knows right away she says “Oh, this is my sister Julie”.
My younger sister is a completely different story. Even before I was a Muslim, she thought I was kind of a goody-goody, that I didn’t do anything wrong. So she had a hard time with me even before I was a Muslim but being Muslim did affect our relationship, but I think our relationship wasn’t good even before I was Muslim. She was 7 years younger than I was, and she did a lot of the things that I would never even think of doing.
I had a hard time telling my mother. So I just decided I was going to call her on the phone, and so it was very emotional and very difficult for me. I called her on the phone and I told her:
“Mum, I’ve decided to become a Muslim.”
And she said “I have two questions: Do you still believe in God?”
And I said “Yes I do.”
And she said “Will it make you happy?”
And I said “Yes it will.”
So she said “Beyond that, it’s fine. You have to do what makes you happy”
When I first took Shahadah, my husband said “You are going to lose friends”.
I told him “No, not my friends, not my friends, the people that I work with and some other friends that I have.” I said “No, I’m sure it will be just fine”.
And actually my husband was right. I lost a lot of my friends because I wasn’t going out. There was no drinking, and even there was one time that I went for lunch with some of my girlfriends and they ordered some drinks at the table that I was sitting at, and the entire time I felt like I was sitting on pins and needles. I felt so uncomfortable being there and after I left, I said I will never do that again…
Watch sister Julie describe her Journey to Islam
source : onislam.net